Chicago Public Schools Unveils Skyline — Chicago’s First-Ever Universal Curriculum Accessible to All CPS Educators
17 June 2021
CHICAGO - Chicago Public Schools today held a virtual celebration to unveil Skyline, the district’s first-ever universal curriculum resource that is culturally-responsive and tailored to the needs of Chicago students. Skyline — which will be available to educators later this summer — was developed through the Curriculum Equity Initiative, which was launched to ensure every student in every school has access to a high-quality curriculum that engages their interests and celebrates their diversity. The introduction of Skyline marks the first time CPS has had a comprehensive curriculum that is accessible to all educators. Previously, schools and teachers were responsible for identifying and securing curriculum on their own, which led to inequities throughout the district that are now being addressed.
“The Skyline launch builds on years of work to ensure that all students, no matter their race or zip code, have access to high-quality curriculum that will help them succeed,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “Equally important, it ensures that every educator in every school has access to the same high-quality learning resources for the first time in our district.”
“Skyline was informed by the work of hundreds of CPS educators who were critical to ensuring it was culturally responsive and meets key learning benchmarks for students,” said CPS Chief Education Officer Dr. LaTanya D. McDade. “With students coming back full time in the fall, this critical resource couldn’t come at a better time to help support teachers and students as we move forward from these challenging times.”
While schools and educators will continue to have the autonomy to implement their own curriculum, Skyline ensures teachers at all schools have guaranteed access to a comprehensive, culturally-responsive curriculum that may be adopted fully or leveraged as a supplement to existing resources. Beginning July 31, the following subjects and grades will be available for teachers, with additional units rolled out at later date:
English language arts, PK-12
Social science, PK-10
World languages, Spanish, PK-12
World languages, French, PK-12
Striving Toward Equity by Meeting a Key Need
In 2019, CPS announced the first-of-its-kind Curriculum Equity Initiative to ensure that students in every part of Chicago can engage with high-quality curriculum and instructional resources. While some teachers have access to instructional materials, quality and access vary greatly among district schools, with nearly half of surveyed CPS educators reporting their school does not have curriculum available in the subject they teach. Skyline provides a standards-aligned, culturally-relevant library of teacher resources that educators across all grade levels and subjects will be able to utilize to supplement their instruction and ensure the needs of all students are met, especially English learners and students receiving specialized services.
To develop Skyline, the district customized curriculum with support from the Curriculum Collaborative, a group of more than 300 Chicago teachers that provided feedback on the curriculum content as part of the district’s formal review process. By customizing curriculum with the support of dedicated educators, the district sought to ensure it effectively supports students from all backgrounds by being reflective of the rich cultural diversity of our students, and combining rigor and support with strategies for addressing diverse learning needs.
Key customized features of Skyline include:
Cultural Responsiveness: The content reflects and celebrates the rich cultural diversity of our students.
Support for Diverse Learners: The curriculum contains recommended accommodations for teachers to meet the individual needs of their students, and platform-based accessibility features.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL): Curriculum incorporates SEL so that every subject incorporates holistic elements.
Spanish Translation and Supports for English Learners: Student instructions for materials are available in Spanish, and includes support for English Learners as they learn content and develop language.
Training and Engaging Schools & Educators on Adoption
While all schools can freely access Skyline resources, the district is currently asking schools to indicate how many grade levels, subjects and what portion of their school populations they expect to be served by Skyline in order to assess what level of training and support are needed from the district.
The district is covering costs for training, non-digital resources such as tests and kits and over the summer, will conduct extensive outreach and provide training opportunities.
A Sustainable, Equity-Focused Investment in Chicago’s Children
The district currently has multi-year contracts with several vendors for a not-to-exceed amount of $45 million on a yearly basis for three years, as well as $32 million in additional funding for the roll out in FY22 as part of Moving Forward Together.
These costs cover curriculum content development for every core subject, professional learning, project management, translation, support and maintenance, and allow schools that currently spend their own discretionary funds on curriculum to instead spend those funds on other educational resources. Following the first three years of the initiative, during which the curriculum and digital platform will be implemented, the costs are expected to drop to approximately $20 million per year, which will primarily cover licensing and maintenance to ensure the curriculum stays relevant for years to come.
Additionally, as announced through Moving Forward Together, the district is investing in additional professional development for staff and essential resources, including high-quality book sets for every classroom, math manipulatives, and science kits for schools adopting the curriculum, so that schools do not have to use their flexible funding dollars to obtain these resources. $8 million in FY22 will be focused on ensuring that every K-3 classroom that adopts the curriculum will receive new books sets. In addition to this $32 million investment in FY22, another $5 million in targeted curriculum implementation support will be provided to the highest-need schools.
Skyline was developed in partnership with a set of key partners that include Amplify Science, Illuminate Education, McGraw Hill Education, Public Consulting Group, SAFARI Montage, and Vista Higher Learning. Additional partners include EdReports, Follett School Solutions, Google for Education, Identity Automation, IMS Global Learning Consortium, Lakeshore Learning, and Mackin Educational Resources.
Chicago Public Schools serves 341,000 students in 638 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.